Nurse practitioner making a difference
AN innovative nurse practitioners program aiding residents’ care and wellbeing at St Catherine’s Hostel in Wangaratta won strong endorsement from Federal Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, during a visit to the facility on Monday.
Minister Wyatt, accompanied by Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) inspected the program and the strides the hostel is making regarding shared decision making and dementia, and the use of telehealth consultations.
“I want the journey for older Australians while they’re in residential care to be a good journey,” he said, meeting with nurse practitioner Steve Voogt, who works at the facility part time and also lends his skills in other centres, including Omeo, Tallangatta, Numurkah and Beechworth.
Nurse practitioners are licensed to practice clinical care including prescribing, requesting diagnostic tests and making referrals, and can help make plans to address the health issues of aged care residents.
Ninety-seven year old resident and program client Barbara French, who is recovering from a leg injury, told Minister Wyatt that she appreciated the “great service...I couldn’t ask for anything more”.
Mr Voogt said nurse practitioner programs were relatively new to. Australia, but that nurse practitioners are “a good part of a multidisciplinary team”.
St Catherine’s Hostel chief executive officer Adrian Johnstone described the minister’s visit as “an honour” and said the positive feedback on St Catherine’s confirms as an organisation it is progressing in the right direction to meet the changing landscape of the industry.
He said the nurse practitioner program had been in place for about four years, with St Catherine’s care manager Heila Brooks playing an essential role in its establishment, and said the service has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of residents, with the support of Melbourne based geriatrician Michael Murray via telehealth consultations enabling good health outcomes.
Ms McGowan congratulated St Catherine’s for demonstrating successful local models of aged care.
She acknowledged the “exceptional support” nurse practitioners provide to a heavily burdened rural GP workforce.
“My invitation to the minister was an opportunity for the practitioners to put the case for access to adequate Medicare rebates and training resource to meet future demand,” Ms McGowan said.
Describing aged care as a growth sector in the region’s economy, Ms McGowan said there were good opportunities ahead for service providers, including the possibility of gaining funding for the region’s share of the Regional Jobs and Investment Package.
CONSULTATION: Nurse practitioner Steve Voogt consults with resident Barbara French about her health issues.